All Articles Tagged "big chop"
By Diamonte Walker
When I was a little girl, I had what my grandmother referred to as, “good, growing hair.” My hair made me feel pretty and the compliments I would get made me feel special. This may seem shallow to some, but to a little black girl who otherwise felt invisible, I welcomed the positive attention.
Early on, my mother made me promise not to cut or perm my hair. She told me chemicals would damage it and she was right. When I started doing my own hair, I tried different styles and eventually became exasperated with using a hot comb and thought it would be a good idea to get a perm. It wasn’t. My once healthy hair became dry and brittle. I resorted to wearing wigs and weaves that I’m sure were not the least bit flattering. I’d lost my crown of glory and I’d felt like I’d lost myself, too.
At the same time I was grieving the abysmal state of my hair, I was also in a horrible relationship. The condition of my hair paired with the condition of my heart was too much to bear. Something had to be done. I had no clue what to do about the relationship. I was in that backwards pattern of thinking, “What if I leave right before he is about to change?” He wasn’t about to change, so I had to do the changing. I decided that cutting off all my hair–a big chop–was the answer. Mind you, this was back at the dawn of the new millennium before the big chop became “The Big Chop.”
Opting for peace was the only way to rid myself of the desperation I felt. Once cutting off all my hair became a viable option, I didn’t waiver or waffle. I walked into my local barbershop, removed the baseball cap from head and told the barber I wanted him to cut it all off. He was being polite when he said, “Come on, Ma, you don’t want to do this. Our hairstylist will hook you up.” I assured him I knew what I asking for and firmly requested an $8 haircut. As the clippers buzzed against my hair and the locks fell to the floor, I thought about my mom. What would she say? I thought about my boyfriend. What would he think? Then, I thought about me and what I needed in that moment. I needed to find the girl beneath the hair. And once I found her, I needed to love her.
When the barber spun me around in the chair and I saw my new reflection for the first time, I recognized myself. I saw the self I knew was there, but was hiding beneath all of the hair. I thought I’d feel masculine and ordinary. Far from it. I felt feminine and exposed in a good way. Other than women in their 40s, I was pretty much alone in sporting my close cropped Afro, at least where I was from. Nonetheless, I immediately felt at peace.
When my mother came home and saw my bald head, her immediate response was, “You look like a queen. You look like royalty.” I honestly felt like a queen. My hair was gone, but my glow was back and we were both able to rejoice in that moment.
Of course, the boyfriend I had didn’t like my hair. He, and a few other black men, went so far as to tell me that I was actually pretty before and should have kept my hair. On the flip side, I’d walk down the street and men of other races would stop to tell me I was beautiful and my hair was lovely. That was new. Looking back, cutting off my hair was an act of defiance. I wanted to challenge the notion that for black women, nice hair is the only expression of beauty. I refused to believe that without my hair, I was nothing. Sure, hair may play huge a part in what others deem aesthetically pleasing, but our self-worth should not be wrapped up in our coils. That’s something I learned and something I’d like to teach my daughter.
My hair has since grown back and that boyfriend is long gone, but the lessons cutting all my hair off taught beauty and self-worth remain.
Have you done the big chop? How did you feel?
Do you remember when you did the big chop? Any significant hair change can be quite the adjustment to make. Still, there’s something about cutting relaxers out of your head and learning to embrace your own strands for the first time that can truly be a change. That doesn’t mean such changes aren’t positive ones, though.
It was such an adjustment in the beginning for our deputy editor, Brande Victorian, that she said in a post celebrating her one-year anniversary of being natural that she cried when she went through the big chop. It’s understandable. While some women live by the “It’s just hair!” mantra, many of us are very attached to our strands for a variety of reasons. But I think the great thing about choosing to go natural in this day and age is that there are so many tutorials and videos out there to help you navigate your hair. And through social media, there are ways for you to stay encouraged and inspired in your journey by watching the progress other women have made during their years of being natural. With that being said, check out a few of our favorite natural hair anniversary pictures (otherwise known as a “nappiversary” or “kinkiversary”). Remember that it’s not about wishing that your hair was like someone else’s, but rather, embracing your own while seeing that with patience and the right TLC, your God-given strands can flourish.
Note: Apologies in advance if the word “nappy” bothers you by the way…
Tomorrow is my 1st Natural Hair Anniversary and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know my natural hair. Doing the Big Chop was the best thing that I could I have done for my hair. No more super dry, itchy scalp. No more breakage. No more random bald patches. Just healthy, flowing and growing hair. After four cuts and one year I’m still loving my natural hair!
Saturday it was about 55 degrees in Harlem; it was rainy, it was wet, and it was cold. I wanted to Netflix and Chill by my damn self, in bed, all day, and yet here I was walking into a shop to get my hair done. I didn’t want to be there, but I knew I needed to be.
I’d spent most of my morning in bed looking at @TheCutLife and pics under the #NaturalHair hashtag trying to find inspiration for what I wanted to walk out of the shop looking like. I got nothing. All I knew was I didn’t want to leave with one of those TWAs that screamed “I just went natural!” and that could only be tamed with an extra large headband (or a bra strap if you’re resourceful). I wasn’t necessarily scared of my hair being too short (although if you know me, you know me and my bun are one in the same), I just wanted to be sure I had a style that day and not one of those you-just-have-to-let-it-grow-out type of cuts.
I knew the probability of me walking out of the shop in tears was high when, after washing my hair, my stylist hesitantly told me I still had a lot of straight ends. “How much?” I asked, thinking damn, how long does it take to grow out a perm?! I’ve resisted for 16 months! That’s when I was given one of those index finger-thumb measurements demonstrating about 5-6 inches. DisTewMuch
I sat there for a good minute trying to decide what I should say before I turned into that Dave Chappelle crackhead meme and asked, “Y’all got anymore of that perm back there?” My beautician, in her natural hair salon, wasn’t going for it and began to lay out some options, like a silk out. But that didn’t make sense for my lifestyle which now includes working out every day. “Let’s just do a trim,” she suggested. I thought about it — for a long time. I didn’t come into the shop expecting a big chop or to free myself of the burden of perm oppression. In my mind I was just getting rid of a few loose ends. But it was those same straight loose ends coupled with my thick, wavy roots that I was tired of managing every single day. And so I said “OK.” And the chopping began.
Fun fact: I’m the type of person who, when in a stressful situation I’m not happy with, shuts down. Immediately, I stopped talking and contemplated what in God’s name I was going to look like when all was said and done. I also thought about the bar I went to the night before, the fake date who cancelled on me, and the lack of dating prospects and how things really weren’t going to work out for me if I walked out of here looking more like Brandon than Brande. I needed to think and not cry — at least not until I got home. The customer before me who’d just gotten a big chop and was left with a curly Cesar wasn’t going to let that happen.
“What’s wrong? You about to cut your hair off too? It’s OK. It’s just hair. I just cut mine all off and I am the weave queen, honey! You’re still going to have some hair. It’ll grow back. You’re a pretty girl, it’ll be fine. You still have a lot of hair. I’m about to go home and shower and I won’t even have to wear a shower cap. Don’t that sound good? Do you wear makeup? Put on some makeup and some big earrings, girl you’ll be good to go.”
The more this woman talked the more I wanted to jump out of the beautician’s chair. I live for makeup, but the idea that I’d have to walk out the house in it every day to mask a hideous haircut was not comforting. Tears were welling up for no damn reason other than the fact that mother nature sprung up on me a little early that morning making everything from having to put on pants to not being able to find my keys feel like something to cry about.
On top of that, my stylist was having a Fix My Life moment with me, saying a haircut is all about confidence and it was time for change. “You already lost 90 pounds, it’s time for a full new look.”
Umm. One physical transformation at a time please. I’m still trying to tackle belly fat and loose skin and lose more pounds. The last thing I need is to feel self-conscious about how I look from the neck-up too. Then came the other stylist who swept up my hair while I tried to peep over my cape and see just how much was gone. “You want me to put it in a bag for you?,” she asked in a tone I didn’t realize was facetious.
I was on some white girl ish.
“Have you ever seen yourself with a ‘fro?”
The way my stylist asked that question when she was done snipping told me ish wasn’t pretty. She even said she wasn’t going to let me see myself before the end result, but I demanded a look in the mirror because I knew there was a good chance I was going to walk out of that chair and either head to the Africans on 125th for some crochet braids or the Dominicans across the street for a blowout.
When I saw myself, I looked exactly how I didn’t want to look. I had that inverted triangle ‘fro that screams, “I cut all my hair off today because people think you don’t love yourself if you still get a perm.” I was not happy and the dead look in my eyes told everyone else in the shop as much.
My stylist suggested either a twist out or a roller set as a style but I couldn’t fathom sitting through that process for another couple of hours to still be mad at the end result. All I knew was I didn’t even have enough hair to put in a ponytail so I didn’t know what the hell I was going to do at the gym, much less when I had to face people at work on Monday.
The wash n’ go attempt we settled on at the shop Saturday was a no-go so I left the salon with my hood over me head and went to get provisions.
You thought I was going to say hair products didn’t you? Nope. I call this my I-just-did-a-big-chop-on-the-first-day-of-my-period starter kit. I showered, re-washed my hair, ate, and laid down thinking we gone try this again tomorrow. (I did pick up a little Kinky Curly too though, just for good measure.)
The first thing I knew I had to do was dye my hair jet black. I hate when my hair is black-brown and making it darker always adds much-needed sheen. I also knew the water spray bottle method employed the day before wasn’t going to work for me. In order for my waves/curls to take any type of shape my hair has to be soaking wet. I also have to apply a combination of a conditioner of some sort and a gel-like curly pudding. So, I applied both and let sit. Praise be to Jesus, I started to see the light.
By Monday (the pic above) I started to think my cut was cute. By Tuesday I’d already found an alternative style to which my co-worker said, “You’re already learning how to navigate your natural hair I see.” A black woman at the gym also told me she loved my curls which was the first compliment I’d gotten on my own hair in a while and I thought, OK, I guess I can do this. My period was also winding down so I wasn’t feeling so much like a psycho maniac who never wanted to leave her house again anymore either.
I have faith in this cliche journey I’ve embarked on 10 years after every other Black woman on earth gave up perms. I’ve long known I’ve needed to chill on the tight ponytails and I could tell it was only a matter of time before my edges permanently went running for the hills. I needed to give my whole head a break and I needed to finally take a chance and do something different instead of wondering “what if?” when I see other womens’ natural hair progression. So, for all the emotionally draining hoopla of the weekend, I’m glad I got the cut. I just would’ve picked a different day to do it and saved myself some tears and calories.
Now that’s it’s spring, you know what that means: time to switch up your hair!
Many women, myself included, have already jumped at the chance to change up their hair color and style now that the sun is acting like it may just come out to play for more than a few hours. But some people are making drastic changes, like Teyana Taylor.
The singer (and my fitness inspiration) showed off her new cut on Instagram late last week. While most are used to seeing Taylor with long hair, she decided to try something old, but new. She calls it, “#vintagerealness”:
Taylor also pointed out that a big reason why she was more than ready to cut her hair off is because she’s been taking hair growth pills. She swears by them.
Down to my last few of these babies, it's definitely time to re-up!!! I swear by these 😩😩 that's why doing the big chop was nothing, because these @TheManeChoice pills have your hair growing like weeds! Even tho I know @courtneyadeleye is ready to killll me for this cut lol 😩😩😂😂😂#TeamPurpleBottle #TheManeChoice #Manetabolism
Don’t really understand the purpose of cutting off your hair and then taking hair growth vitamins…unless the big chop was done to get rid of damaged strands? Hey, whatever works.
As for the cut as a whole, I’m loving it! A lot of the hair she wears tends to shroud her face, so you don’t often get to see her bone structure, which is amazing. Plus, as she pointed out, she’s also giving us a Peaches in Low Down Dirty Shame vibe. That could never be a bad thing.
But what do you think? Let us know your thoughts on her finger waves below! Do you have any big hair changes planned for spring?
For years, the idea of cutting my hair was a huge no-no. I was running scared from the shears.
I used to watch Tyra Banks’ “America’s Next Top Model” and shutter along with the unfortunate young woman chosen to go from luscious, cascading locks, to damn near bald. I related the process to essentially being scalped–very dramatic I know, but this was high school, and just the sight of scissors for a trim terrified me.
It also didn’t help that friends and family would scare me into not cutting my hair. They would shoot down any hairstyle change I would bring up that had to do with a cut. I can remember wanting to cut my hair and immediately getting shut down by everyone – including my stylist at the time. To all of them, long hair is beautiful, and only those who can’t grow it are trying to chop their hair off. After getting negative responses towards my ideas at every turn, I conceded.
But that was until December 2013, just before the ball dropped for 2014. I was fresh out of college for a few months, tired of my boring hair and in need of an aesthetic change. Still, my childhood stylist would only agree to gift me a long bob. But after doing a little shopping around for stylists, soon after, I was able to go from shoulder length strands to feeling the wind hit the back of my neck.
I haven’t looked or turned back since. I love being my baldy-locs self. I look forward to sitting in the chair and getting a shape-up of sorts to maintain my cropped cut. I enjoy not having my hair in my face or in the way. I’m happy…
But I just wish that my short hair didn’t invite those in my life to believe that dating will now be next to impossible for me. Even with style icons like Nia Long, Halle Berry, Lupita Nyong’o and even Keke Palmer rocking short strands and doing it in a fierce manner, my short hair is being touted as a reason why I’ll never get and keep a man.
Unfortunately, many don’t “get” why I chopped my hair off, and cousins shamelessly ask, “How do guys react to your hair being just as low as theirs is in the back? Are you even dating?”
It’s ludicrous to pin a lack of boyfriends on my lack of hair. The confidence I feel with my cropped ‘do is enough for me to attract the right people – including interested guys – into my circle. I haven’t picked up a new boyfriend because I haven’t had the time to even look for one. The hustle never ends. But if a short haircut is going to keep a guy from being interested in getting to know me better, it’s probably best that we don’t make a connection.
Despite celebrating women of all shades, sizes and hair lengths in various settings, some of us are still slaves to stereotypical standards of beauty, like the need for long hair to look feminine. But I won’t allow my hair to be used as something to explain why I didn’t land a particular job or date. Seriously, it’s just hair.
The right man, along with many other “right” facets of life, will fall into place when it’s time–much like the right hairstyle.
If you’re thinking of taking the scissors to your hair for a “big chop,” but wondering what to expect afterward, worry no more. I sat down with Agnes Ojeh, 26, who is preparing to celebrate her one-year ‘Nappiversary’ soon. She had lots of interesting thoughts and some great advice for those still within their first year, and for those thinking about going natural.
When did you go natural and why?
I’d been thinking about going natural for two years. I decided to take out my weave and transition in 2012. I tried that out and realized it wasn’t working. My textures were two different types and it was very difficult to work with. I got frustrated and in October of 2013, I did the big chop.
Who encouraged you to go natural?
Two of my cousins went natural. One almost four years ago, and her sister went natural shortly after. I thought “Whoa, that’s brave. I would never cut my hair.” I was motivated and inspired by my cousins. I decided to do the big chop because I wanted healthy hair and I didn’t have to base my hairstyle on weaves. I was tired of hiding the transition.
After you did the big chop, what surprised you about your hair?
I noticed that it was just there. I just had to wake up and go. And I was like, “What am I supposed to do with my hair? It’s really gone!” I kind of felt like I had to embrace my hair and embrace who I am. It made me feel renewed, like a brand new person.
Why do you think you were holding on to the length while transitioning?
It was vanity and fear. The older I’ve gotten, the more confident I’ve become. But, there’s just something attached with hair being identified with beauty, and beauty coming from having long hair. I thought I wouldn’t see myself as beautiful with short hair. But I overcame that fear, and that’s why it was so profound for me. I overcame the fear. My self-esteem had to be high, and I didn’t allow any other people’s opinions or views to overshadow what I wanted to do and how I truly felt.
Did you face any opposition to going natural?
Definitely. 100 percent. I wanted to chop before my birthday because I didn’t want to celebrate my birthday with dead hair. At the time, it was my mom’s favorite nephew’s wedding. She said to me, “Why would you want to do that? Who chops their hair right before a wedding?” But my mom had a big afro in the ’70s! She said I couldn’t have short hair and look glamorous. Even my co-workers asked me what I was going to do with no hair.
What did you learn about the day-to-day care of your hair? What was the process like?
It was very trying because I had to learn my texture. Not every product worked well with my hair. Things that one of my favorite hair bloggers used didn’t’ work with my hair. I found myself trying to do twist outs early on, or using lots of products. I spent almost $400 dollars on products trying to find out what works for my hair, and what would give me shine or curl definition. And you know what–I don’t even use half of them!
What advice do you have for others on caring for their hair?
I would encourage a person to do their research on their hair texture. Do as much reading as you can to avoid spending so much money on hair products. Water and a little bit of Shea butter goes a long way! Work with what you have and with what’s accessible.
It takes time to get adjusted and learn your hair. You’re not gonna cut your hair and say, “This is exactly what I wanted.” It takes time to create a regimen. For me, being natural is time consuming because I have to invest [time] in taking care of my hair. It’s like a plant. You have to water it, watch it grow, sing to it, massage it—you have to study hair! Learn to maintain and protect your natural hair as part of your upkeep. It will come with time.
What are your hair goals?
I just can’t wait until I reach four years being natural, or 10 years being natural. I embrace it every day. My end goal is to try new things. I’ve always been so safe; being natural is like a kick-start for me.
What is the best part of your first year after the big chop?
The greatest feeling for me is to watch my hair grow. I just fell in love with my hair. It’s thicker now, it’s healthier and it has more density. Seeing my hair now in its natural state, I think, ‘Why did I ever perm my hair?’ I love embracing how God made me. People have no choice but to respect it and embrace my natural hair as I do because I’m not changing it. Going natural was perfect. It was what I needed. I’m proud that I did [the big chop].
Big choppers of the world have a new national member to add to their crew. Yesterday Tamera Mowry-Housley showed off her new ‘do on Instagram and it’s definitely a big switch. Posting the photo, Tamera wrote:
Love my big chop…love my curl doctor @shaiamiel You did it again
@shaiamiel is Shai Amiel, owner of Capella Salon in Studio City, CA, who literally goes by the name “Curl Doctor” and who showed off Tamera’s big chop on her own Instagram account.
Before the big reveal, Tamera hinted this move was coming when she sent out this tweet while at the salon, but no one knew such a drastic change was in the works.
— Tamera Mowry-Housley (@TameraMowryTwo) January 13, 2014
We’ve gotten so used to seeing Tamera with long flowing locks so this look will definitely take a little time to get used to. We can’t wait to see how she styles it on “The Real.” What do you think about Tamera’s big chop?
I always look at women with buzz cuts as extremely bold and beautiful, mostly because I don’t have the courage to chop my hair off to such a low cut. And probably because I don’t trust my bald head to be so smooth and well…bump-free. So let’s just say I live vicariously through the following beauties, who look or have looked absolutely fabulous with their buzz cuts over the years. And maybe they’ll even give you the courage to try something new with your hair too…
The beauty we know best from Rush Hour 3, who is also a gorgeous French model, chopped her curly coif off years back, and even showed it off in the film (to the shock and damn near horror of Chris Tucker’s character). Lenoir even took it a step further when she dyed the look beach blonde. But the above look, widow’s peak and all, we like best!
Perhaps Nicci Gilbert will find friends amongst naturalists with her new hairdo since she’s been making so many enemies elsewhere.
The “R&B Divas Atlanta” reality star who’s arguable the most talked about — and possibly the most hated — woman on the show just made a somewhat major hair transformation and lived to tell about it on Instagram. Posting the picture above, the former Brownstone group member wrote:
Phase 1 of my big chop short hair don’t care…all natural feels GREAT
While most of her IG followers’ comments are positive and supportive, some are giving the singer a big whoopty doo because A) she used to have short — assumingly natural — hair when she was in Brownstone and B) a lot of people just don’t like her. We also had no clue what Nicci’s real hair looked like since she stepped back into the spotlight since all the ladies on “R&B Divas” regularly rock the long silky weave. From what I see so far, this ‘do looks far more attractive on the 43-year-old and even makes her look a bit younger. I wonder what’s to come in Phase 2.
What do you think about Nicci’s big chop? Do you like?
When it comes to our hair, there’s always someone ready and willing to jump in and provide their two cents. They’re not paying for the up keep, in most cases they’re not taking care of it. They just know how they like for you to wear your hair. So if you decide to cut it off, wear a different style or go natural, please believe your sisters, cousins, man or father will have something to say about it. We checked in with our Facebook and Twitter followers to see what types of comments people have made about their hair.
City Girl: Let my relaxer grow out and my sister said just the other day I was trying to be “African.”
Yolanda: So much, it’s too short, get a weave, take your weave out,weave too long, braids too long, go natural. Just do you!
JC: I get the I must be gay comments too because I wear it short. I also get I look too harsh o_O. Whatever, lol
MzMakeup: From a Natural Hair Nazi that judged me for putting heat in my head from flat iron or blow dry.
Whitney: yes! A black girl told me my natural hair made me look masculine. She can’t grow her own hair though : /
Veyonce: Yes cut my mid back length hair to a bob my cousin stopped speaking to me
Nicole: Absolutely. Mostly from my Dad. Everybody else is cool with and haven’t really made any rude comments except him. He’s cooled down recently. I guess he’s getting used to it.
Angela: Yes! I’ve been natural for 8 months. I recently started wearing my own hair out in different natural styles. My family has been the most brutal. White people give me the best compliments.
Alesia: Not flack, necessarily, but several years ago I reverted from natural back to flat ironed hair, an an older black woman I know very casually “complimented” me by telling how much nicer and professional my hair looked. o_0
Kenneka: HEEEEEELLLL YEAH!! Like our friend MIGUEL said, blacks are the most negative against our own people. I cut my hair off to what you would call a TWA by way of the big chop over a year ago. It’s like I immediately got the stank stare. I have gotten a few compliments from other “naturals,” but honey the others…”why did you have to cut your hair?!” “your hair is TOO natural,”and the list goes on. Mainly from family and those who have known me since my longer, relaxed hair days. But yeah. I always say, you won’t hear it from whites or Hispanics and Asians…any other race, but our own? We are soooo warped into believing that you have to be a certain skin tone, or have your hair a certain way to be pretty. it’s really sad.
Minnie: I say it’s on my head, so it’s none of your business
Karema: Yes, I got sick of wearing weaves because it was damaging my edges from being braided too tight. So last month I cut my hair all off in a cute style to regrow it healthy. All the women loved it but of course the men said ” why you do that?” or the just make a sour puss face. I love it short and I do not regret it.
Melody: Yes. After I transitioned and embraced my Afrocentricity, my ‘WASBAND’ told me I resembled the football player Rosey Grier from behind, and that’s not what he signed on for; I now BASK in MY glory!
Zain: I def received flack from my male “friends” bc I wear a weave that mimics natural hair. According to them, I’m not natural BC my choice of a protective style is not my real hair. These are the same group of men that believe that 4c hair isn’t as attractive as 3c hair… I’ve been natural for 17 years…the flack let’s me know I’m doing something right…